Paul Ryan prepares a post-election GOP, rebuilt on higher ground

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Kudos to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who sees the tragic course that his party has committed itself to taking and is already preparing the message that it will need in the aftermath.

In a speech this morning to House interns that his office suggested was meant for a much broader audience, Ryan expressed sincere regret and concern for the state of modern politics. He recalled an earlier, better time in Washington politics, a time when ideas mattered and when “we always held ourselves to a higher standard of decorum.”

“We treated each other with respect,” he told the interns. “We disagreed—often fiercely so—but we disagreed without being disagreeable. … it almost sounds like I’m speaking of another time, doesn’t it? It sounds like a scene unfamiliar to your generation.”

Ryan talked of the need for a renewed faith in politics, government institutions and leaders, warning that when people lose faith in those things, they lose faith in the future too. Such loss of faith is now rampant, he said, “but we don’t have to accept it. And we cannot enable it either.”

Most of all, he stressed the need for a new style of leadership that is diametrically opposed to that now being practiced on the national stage, a style in which would-be leaders “hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity and decency.”

“We don’t resort to scaring you, we dare to inspire you. We don’t just oppose someone or something. We propose a clear and compelling alternative. … We question each other’s ideas—vigorously—but we don’t question each other’s motives. If someone has a bad idea, we don’t think they’re a bad person. We just think they have a bad idea. 

People with different ideas are not traitors. They are not our enemies. They are our neighbors, our coworkers, our fellow citizens. Sometimes they’re our friends. Sometimes they’re even our own flesh and blood, right? We all know someone we love who disagrees with us politically, or votes differently.

“But in a confident America, we aren’t afraid to disagree with each other. We don’t lock ourselves in an echo chamber, where we take comfort in the dogmas and opinions we already hold. We don’t shut down on people—and we don’t shut people down. If someone has a bad idea, we tell them why our idea is better. We don’t insult them into agreeing with us. We try to persuade them. We test their assumptions. And while we’re at it, we test our own assumptions too.”

Ryan did not explicitly direct his comments at any one party or at individual candidates, but the act of naming names wasn’t necessary. Anybody who has paid any attention to American politics over the last quarter century knows exactly to whom he was referring. To cite just one example, the contrast between Ryan’s words and those of a GOP predecessor as speaker, Newt Gingrich, could not be more stark.

To his further credit, Ryan acknowledged that this wisdom is relatively new, even for him.

“There was a time when I would talk about a difference between “makers” and “takers” in our country, referring to people who accepted government benefits. But as I spent more time listening and really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized I was wrong. “Takers” wasn’t how to refer to a single mom stuck in a poverty trap, just trying to take care of her family. Most people don’t want to be dependent. And to label a whole group of Americans that way was wrong.”

Again, it isn’t necessary to name names to know the target for such words.  In fact, judging from some of the comments posted at Ryan’s website in response to his speech, the implicit message came through loud and clear, and was quite unwelcome.

“Ryan is a good democrat,” complained one citizen, as if only Democrats would say such things.

“Ryan is a proud cuckservative — he thinks it’s more important to be “nice” than to revitalize America and save the middle class,” wrote a second.

“So to inspire you, we are going to ignore the will of the people and continue selling out our country and bringing in Muslims and illegals,” responded a third. “….oh and do everything we can to steal the nomination so we can stay in power. How do you know when Ryan is lying? His lips are moving. Dirtbag!”

“Mr. Ryan, is a typical, highly over-paid jackass,” wrote a fourth. “America went to Germany to kill the socialists. Now we have a socialist running for president (bum Bernie). America went to Korea and Viet Nam to kill communists. Now, we have one running for president (baby-eater Hillary). Washington, D.C. is an inbred cesspool of slime, interested ONLY in themselves. I will not be civil to the enemies of the United States.”

“Ryan is a traitor,” concludes a fifth. “Remember him.”

When a simple but heartfelt call for civility is condemned as an act of partisan betrayal, you know something has gone seriously awry. But those are the voices that now dominate Ryan’s party and that now typify too much of our political discourse.  Those are the attitudes that the GOP has legitimized and mainstreamed in its effort to hold power, and as Ryan seems to understand, those are also the attitudes that should condemn it to electoral disaster this fall.

Such critics aside, Ryan is not a Democrat, liberal or even moderate, not by any legitimate definition of those terms.  The ideas that he seeks to champion are profoundly conservative, and I disagree strongly with most of them. But I give him immense credit for saying what needs to be said, and for trying to prepare the ground for one day rebuilding his party and movement on higher ground.

Clearly, a lot of people are not ready to hear that yet. Ryan’s hope, and mine, is that will change after November.

Reader Comments 0

1544 comments
xxxzzz
xxxzzz

He's clearly talking about President Obama and Hillary Clinton in a lot of this (questioning the motives, treating others with respect).

TBS
TBS

Dude will be passing out Trump tracts before long

Sort of like some folks of faith pass out to people

breckenridge
breckenridge

@TBS 

I got religion in the airport, my lord
They caught me waiting on my baggage when I was bored
Let them chant, let them chant
Although they may not be the only one
Let them dance, dance, dance
Although they may not be the only one.

Thank you Neil.

td1234
td1234

There are 21 states that have a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act enacted by their legislature:

If states with RFRA-like provisions that have been provided by state court decisions—rather than via legislation—are included, the list also contains:[48][49]

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Ohio
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

OldEngineer
OldEngineer

@td1234 "Some states have had legislation withdrawn or vetoed." - included in the Wikipedia piece from the above.

foo2u
foo2u

@td1234 Alabama.... the state where the Gov just got caught diddling his aide?

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

In @td1234 world economic boycotts are only a myth and the south was not forced to change its ways because they were used against them.  Why do you think Nikki Haley finally took down the confederate flag?  South Carolina is dirt bag poor because there had been an economic boycott on it for 15 years, when the flag came down it was lifted.

foo2u
foo2u

@StraightNoChaser @td1234 If I remember correctly economic boycotts are what helped end apartheid... much to the wingnut ilks chargrin...

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@StraightNoChaser @td1234 The problem is that your belief is a fiction.  South Carolina has been one of the fastest growing states in the south.  Not Florida or Texas fast, but significantly ahead of most of the rest.

breckenridge
breckenridge

It's time for Georgia to join the 21st century and quit catering to a bunch of backwoods hicks.

TBS
TBS

If companies won't leave, increase or decrease their workforce in the state or direct certain types of business to out of state offices and factories why does the state offer so many of them certain additional tax breaks and credits?

After all they won't change anything about their operations in GA, right?

td1234
td1234

@TBS I guess you have never read the "Art of the Deal". 


Bottom line son. 

honested
honested

@TBS 

The Michelle Bachmannnnnn corn dog photos come to mind.

honested
honested

@td1234 @TBS 

Some fools will fall for anything......

Especially if there is a loud enough charlatan pushing it.

TBS
TBS

Art of the Deal...

Someone is under the spell of Trump

And when he says "son" that is big time

Bwhahaha

TBS
TBS

He is certainly man crushing on some Trump

OldEngineer
OldEngineer

@td1234 @TBS  "The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people's fantasies." Art of the Deal

lvg
lvg

Ryan is trying to put lipstick on a pig's rear. None of that garbage will fly with GOP anarchists in Congress unless they get a white male   conservative in the White House

JamVet
JamVet

preachers from having to marry gay people?


The scariest part?

People like this operate motor vehicles...

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@td1234 "Sun Trust didn't go any where"

My brother who is a small business owner sued and won against Sun Trust for racial discrimination so they are right at home.

gotalife
gotalife

I am anti con but still buy weed from cons.

breckenridge
breckenridge

So......is this scenario possible under this law?


Jane Doe is a teller at Suntrust, and a thumper.  Two guys walk in "Hi Jane Doe, we just got married, and we want to open a joint checking account." Jane says "Oh no, I can't help you with that, we have religious freedom laws in Georgia, and gay marriage offends me."  The following week, the Suntrust corporate counsel gets a notice informing him the bank is being sued for $3 million.


I could see where corporations might have a slight problem with that.

PurdueTone
PurdueTone

No, that can't happen. Suntrust isn't a faith-based organization.....

honested
honested

@breckenridge 

Having listened to much of the discussion on the "Religious Freak Fee-Fee
Protection Act" I would say it is entirely possible.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@honested 

No. It's the same thing as the bakers. If baking or banking is part of a religious ritual, then yes they could rightfully refuse to do business with whatever goes against their beliefs, but baking a cake or opening an account has nothing at all to do with a religious practice.

honested
honested

@Kamchak @honested 

The truly disgusting nature of the Senate deliberations suggest there is much more lunacy to come.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Kamchak @honested What I still do not understand is why a gay couple would want someone involved in their special day that obviously disagrees, foundationally, with them?

TBS
TBS

Funny that the same blogger who has mentioned many times how big money rules and has been that way for a long time is now upset when that same big money is against something he wants so bad

We have to have that RFRA, damnit

GA will be the bestest state ever if Deal would sign that bill

JamVet
JamVet

The NFL issued a stern warning Friday to the state of Georgia and the city of Atlanta, a reminder that if a “religious liberty” bill is signed into law by the governor, it could affect whether the city is chosen to host a Super Bowl.


“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”


Although the NFL rarely is vocally involved in social and political issues, it has flexed its muscles from time to time. In 1990, it moved the Super Bowl from Arizona to the Rose Bowl in California because of Arizona’s refusal to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday.


More recently, a 2014 Religious Freedom Restoration Act reached the desk of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and the NFL was prepared to move Super Bowl XLIX, saying in a statement:

“Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other improper standard. We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time.”


Brewer vetoed the bill and the game was played in Arizona.



DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@JamVet The NFL assuming they have the high road on any social issue is infuriating.

TBS
TBS

Well the whine was about Hollywood

Now that folks are posting info showing it is much more than Hollywood the two right foot clod hopping has commenced

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@DownInAlbany @JamVet

The NFL assuming they have the high road on any social issue is infuriating.

Why... I... I mean...

Ok. Can't argue that, at all.